Ross Mirkarimi is one of the most successful, powerful Green Party politicians in the nation. He has been elected to the San Francisco board of supervisors twice, succeeding Green Matt Gonzalez in 2005, and was recently appointed to a powerful land use commission by the California State Senate. On his website, he lists some of his accomplishments as a legislator:
- Plastic Bag Ban: First-in-the-Nation ban on plastic bags in chain grocery stores and drug stores, which sparked similar legislation around the world from Oakland to Canada to Paris to Beijing.
- Commuter Benefits: First-in-the-Nation commuter benefits law, requiring private-sector businesses to allow employees to pay for public transit expenses with pre-tax dollars.
- Climate Change Protocols: First-in-the-Nation mandatory protocols for both public and private sectors.
- Medical Cannabis Dispensary Regulations: First-in-the-Nation public health, land-use and public safety regulations of medicinal marijuana dispensaries.
- Reentry for Ex-Offenders: Formation of the Safe Communities Reentry Council to help reintegrate the formerly incarcerated — recognizing the reentry process as a critical opportunity to break the cycle of crime and violence and reduce California’s worst-in-the-nation recidivism rate.
- Police Foot Patrols: Required the San Francisco Police Department to institutionalize community policing practices such as foot patrols.
- Workforce Reform: Overhaul of the City’s workforce training and placement programs to expand the scope of the First Source Hiring Program and establish private sector incentives to employ residents from disadvantaged communities and those who served time in prison or county jail.
- Tenant Protection: Successful ballot measure (Prop H, 2007) to increase relocation assistance payments to tenants who are evicted through no fault of their own, including increased payments for seniors, children, and the disabled.
- Chain Store Restrictions: Neighborhood-backed legislation to restrict chain stores while protecting small business and neighborhood integrity.
Mirkarimi has recently been in the news for his reaction to the city’s budget crisis and his support for a measure banning the declawing of cats.
On Tuesday Supervisor Chris Daly floated new legislation to tap into funds already earmarked to pay the salaries of other Department of Public Health employees. His proposal will be considered next week.
The idea is to buy time to see whether the health department brings in more revenue than projected through fees and reimbursements…
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who supports Daly’s proposal, said that he understands the concern but that the risk is one worth taking.
“It’s about the here and now … to save those jobs … that we deem necessary,” Mirkarimi said.
Mirkarimi also got himself involved in a small political battle with Democratic mayor Gavin Newsom – who barely beat out Matt Gonzalez for his seat in 2003 and recently conceded in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in California – over one aspect of the budget. Newsom’s spokesman recently quit and Mirkarimi is now asking that this position not be filled:
“It’s a question of excess,” he said, noting the city is in such dire financial straits that, as SF Weekly broke Monday, the controller’s office has rescinded its certification of any spending that hasn’t already been budgeted (in a nutshell, the city can’t spend any money without cutting the budget or adding revenue).
Mirkarimi also helped to pass an ordinance banning cat declawing in San Francisco. He has become a sort of spokesman for the measure, with MSNBC and other outlets quoting his views on it.
“It’s a form of animal cruelty,” San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, a major supporter of the ban, tells PEOPLEPets.com. “It would be unconscionable to ignore that fact.”
The San Francisco board of supervisors voted 9-2 to enact the ban, which would prohibit anyone in the city from declawing cats and penalize consenting pet owners. “It’s a form of amputation and would render the cat defenseless if it were attacked,” says Mirkarimi, who has owned rescue animals in the past…
One of the dissenting Bay Area supervisors, Michela Alto-Pier, told the San Francisco Examiner that the board was overreaching its charge and should stray from such medical decisions.
But Mirkarimi says the law does have a medical necessity clause to protect the cat, adding that the California state legislature forced municipalities to act after the state passed a new statute to restrict cities from regulating veterinary medicine and medical procedures after Jan. 1, 2010. “They hijacked our authority and forced our hand,” he says.
The Board of Supervisors can’t tell other departments how to spend their money or who to hire and fire — as illustrated when the supes overstepped their bounds by stripping funds from ACT and the opera this summer. But they could, theoretically, cut the amount of Ballard’s salary from the mayor’s press office and send the message that way.
It remains to be seen how the mayor’s office would handle such a move, if it came to pass. But, in the interest of perspective, the city is facing a $53.1 million shortfall. And cutting Ballard’s job after he leaves would neatly account for that $0.1 million.